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My Top 5 Mistakes Making a Home Gym for Effective Bodybuilding | Tokyo Titan

I now have a really nice home gym that I'm proud of. But there were a lot of mistakes getting to this point. Today I'm going to share with you five really good tips to avoid the mistakes that I made and build the best home gym for you.


1. Plan out the final concept

When you're buying equipment, it's really easy to focus on what you want or what you need right now, buying that and then thinking about the next thing. If you do that, then you'll have very little synergy between the items you buy.


When there's very little synergy between your equipment, sure, you've got some really effective tools by themselves, but then you end up having lots of clutter in a very limited space, and this is not what you want for your home gym. You want it to be as effective as possible while using as little space and as little equipment as possible.


2. Buy for now and the future.

The worst thing you can do is buy really good equipment you can use now, but then you outgrow it and then you're stuck with this equipment in your gym you're not really using, or you end up throwing it out or selling it, but it's still a waste of money.


You want to plan ahead and see where you're going to be in a couple of years time in your training, how strong you're going to be, the things you're going to be capable of doing and plan to buy a piece of equipment that can still be used in a few years time, but you can also use effectively now.


A really good example of a big mistake I made when doing home gym purchases was the adjustable dumbbells. The first dumbbells that I bought, they were dumbbells where you have to screw on the plates. This had some drawbacks, like, for example, taking up time.

But in terms of the piece of equipment it was, at the time, with a maximum load of 20 kilograms, that was fine. I was able to use that effectively for the next six months. I wasn't pressing that much weight. I wasn't doing rows that were too heavy. It was about right for that time.

But in six months I outgrew it. So then I had these dumbbells they were designed to be used in a small living room for someone who's not that strong, their kind of serious about training, but they're not going to be doing powerlifting, that kind of thing. It was a well-designed product for what it was, but it wasn't good for the future me, when I had become stronger, when I was more serious about my training than the first six months, the first year of my training.


So then I was stuck with these dumbbells that were not really effective, that were then also chewing up a lot of my time working out, and I ended up giving them to someone else and buying power blocks.


These power blocks can go from four kilograms when there's no plates in there, all the way up to 40.5 kilograms. Right now for 8 to 10 reps, I'm benching 36 kilograms and for rows 36 kilograms. That is great for my capabilities now after about five, six years of training.


Always buy for both how you are now and how you want to be in the future.


3. Measure and calculate everything.

I cannot stress this one enough. I was fortunate enough that I didn't make this mistake too often. At least in the critical bits I did plan out everything, and measure everything, and calculate everything. There were some times where I got a little bit lazy and it came back to bite me afterwards. We'll go into that in a little bit more.


When I was first buying this power rack, this rack, this quarter rack, I did the right thing for this one. I actually measured out the height and I planned out everything. I measured the dimensions of my room and even the ceiling. Initially, I wanted either a full rack or a half rack. That's the standard rack you use for weightlifting.

It's also a little bit more stable if you've got the, well particularly the full rack, but also a half rack, going up higher and then coming out. It's safer for racking things up. This one, if the plates are off the back there, these plates here they have two purposes. Obviously storage here, but then also they keep it from tipping over.

If I was doing, let's say, a bench press, all the plates are up and I was putting it on that it would kind of tip back a bit and then maybe rock back forward in the best case scenario. Worst case scenario, it's tipping over and there's likely to be an injury


Also with a half rack or a full rack, you can do other things as well. Sometimes they come with a pull up bar, which means I wouldn't have to buy something like this for my home gym. You can also hang cables on them like my cable pulley system. Right now I hang that off of the pull up bar, which works just fine for my situation. But if I was able to do that in the power rack, then that would save up space. It would be really effective use of the space here.


In the ideal situation, I would have either a half rack or a full rack, but the height of this ceiling stops that from happening. If I had not measured that out properly, including how far this air conditioner comes out, then I would have ended up with a rack that would have just fit in the room. I wouldn’t be able to get any special attachments on the top, like the in-built cable system or the built-in cable system, because that would definitely contact the roof then and go through it.

But then also it would be stuck here. I wouldn't be able to use this space for anything else. It would have been honestly a miserable home gym. It would have been pretty pathetic.

And it would have been a waste of money as well, because I would have had to get rid of it and sell it. Hopefully to try and get my refund. But even then I would still have to pay the cost of shipping, that kind of stuff. So it would be a huge disaster. It would be a nightmare.


That's one time I got really lucky with my calculations. One time I didn't: before I bought this pull up bar. This thing's amazing. I really like this one.

Initially, I didn't want to really bolt things into the walls and damage them. I mean, maybe someday I want to sell this house, and that's going to make it more difficult to sell.

Plus, also, there is a slight safety concern. It's not really like an issue, but it's at the back of the mind. You want to do it properly, get it in the slats there. It did take a bit more effort.

Before I did this, I attempted to use a pull up bar where you can put it up between two surfaces and you wind it round and it extends to push into the walls, and you can then use that as a pull up bar.


The problem is the product, even though they sell it in Japan, it's not designed for Japanese houses. You want to have it between ideally two brick walls, two cement walls, something hard that's not going to, well basically break as you push it in.

If I was going to use it correctly in a Japanese house, I’d want to have it between two slats on opposite walls. I managed to do that once or twice. The third time, though, it punched a hole in the wall just as I was winding it, I hadn't used it yet.

And I'm sure at some point as well the way it was designed, it would have slipped down, I would have hurt myself. Knowing me, I would have tried to use the cable system on it and that would have come crashing down and done even more damage.


After that mistake, it ended up costing me ¥20,000 to get the wall fixed. I was able to return the product. It was advertised as you just put up between two walls and that was it. You couldn't do that. So I did get my money back. It was a very expensive lesson, though.


Always calculate everything. Always do the measurements properly. Make sure you've got everything perfect before you do the purchase and use it.


4. Simulate your workouts

This is very simple but very effective. When you do this, when you're imagining yourself using your equipment as you walk around your gym, you’ll probably feel a bit silly, but trust me, it is worth it.

By doing this, you'll be able to pick up on so many potential issues before you even buy the equipment you're thinking of getting. And then once you identify those issues, then you can think of ways to possibly mitigate that. And if that's not possible, then you can make the decision of let's try and find something else where it won't be an issue.


Let's say, for example, I had done this before I bought the adjustable dumbbells. I would have realized "I’ve got the plates, I have to screw it on. Once I've done that, turn it over, do the other side. Oh wait, there's another dumbbell,” and do the whole thing again. I would have realized that that takes way too much time, which means I can't do super sets. I can't do drop sets.


An example of when I got this right was the landmine. Before I got this landmine, I got this bar out, I put it in the corner and I tested it. I tried it with, actually, with this makeshift landmine over here. So to protect the rack I put this on the end there, and then I did all sorts of landmine exercises. Having that ball there, it allows the bar to also go along the the sides of the rack there a little bit smoother than not having it.

And so because I had that experience, I was able to to see, for example, this is just the right length. I can move it around here. It's not going to get in the way of anything. It's not going to damage anything. That's one example of when I actually did get it right.


Always simulate in your mind how you're going to use that equipment after you buy it. Trust me, it will be worth it.


5. Try and solve your problems with what you have

I've made a lot of changes to how I use my cable system over the years. I’ve made a lot of mistakes with it, too. I'm going to quickly show you what it looks like set up and then I can show you the mistakes I've made with it.

So this is what the cable system looks like in its basic setup. This is how I bought it. With this, you can do all sorts of high setting things like tricep push downs. You can do overhead extensions, you can attach a rope, you can do face pulls that kind of thing.

The low setting, you have to connect the pulley onto the plate and then you've got the plates moving along the 's not great. It swings a lot. I don't like it, which is why I was trying to find ways to have it where you could extend this going through another pulley. That would be a lot like the cable machine you'd get in a commercial gym.


When I tried to do that, I made lots of mistakes. One of the bigger ones and I still kind of wish it worked out, if you come down here, you can see there's a lot of residual adhesive there. That's dried out, that's stuck there. It's staying there for life. That's a reminder of the mistake I made.

That kind of ties into one of the earlier tips of measuring, calculating everything. The idea was to put a cable on here, a pulley on here permanently, that way I could easily connect up the cable. I'd have to probably move this over a little bit more so it was aligned with here. But then I could do my cable exercises very easily.


By doing it that way, this rack would be securing that second pulley downwards, and then I'd be able to quickly change over from the high sitting to the low setting and do some really effective cable training.


Unfortunately, the torque was too much for the little pulley that I was using and it came off. Maybe I should have bolted it down. I was worried though, about impacting the integrity of this and causing some safety issues. Obviously, that would void the warranty, not that I haven't already been doing stuff like this, mind you.


So how did I solve this issue? It's actually really good.


Quite embarrassingly, I had this idea six months before I actually did it. I forgot about it. While I was drifting off to sleep in bed, it just came to me. I could use the anchor from my band set and secure the pulley onto the anchor there which is secured in the door hinge. That way, I can change between the high setting and low setting cable exercises.

But like I said, I forgot about that. Next day when I woke up, completely gone from my mind. And then I spent the next six months trying to do all these ridiculous things to try and solve it. And then eventually it just came back into my mind, just popped back in, and then I realized, “Oh wait, I had that idea a long time ago.” I felt really stupid.


I'm going to quickly show you what it looks like using this.


And look at that. A very simple fix. Now I can do things like cable curls on a low setting. When I want to change back to the high setting, I just disconnect this extension and put the handle back on here. This is a really simple fix using equipment that I already had.


Before you go out and buy new things to try and solve problems, really examine all the things you already have and try to think of a solution using those things. Once you have truly exhausted all your options and you've identified “It's just not possible to do what I want with my current equipment, with my current objects,” then go out and buy new things to try and solve the issue.



There you have it, five great tips to avoid the mistakes that I made in my journey to build what is now a great home gym for effective bodybuilding. By following these tips, you can avoid making the same mistakes I made to save money and time, and build the optimal training room for your home.


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